Even in the face of the dismal polls, most of Mr. McCain’s campaign staff continues to hold out hope, however distant, that Mr. McCain or events will somehow turn the situation around. But more often the mood is anxious, angry or subdued, interspersed with occasional moments of escape. Last Tuesday after the presidential debate in Nashville, Mr. Salter and Steve Schmidt, who is managing Mr. McCain’s campaign, were at a karaoke bar until the small hours of the morning as Mr. Salter sang his way through a range of Bob Dylan songs.
Tidbits like this often languish in reporters’ notebooks. But, sometimes, with a muscular transition, they can see the light of day.